New Castle News

John K. Manna

July 15, 2012

John K. Manna: Love and distance among the candidates

NEW CASTLE — A week ago when President Obama campaigned in Pittsburgh, Sen. Bob Casey appeared with him.

The two men embraced for all the world to see. You might say this wasn’t unusual since both men are Democrats.

However, it is unusual in some respects considering the fact that other Democrats are distancing themselves from Obama this year. We don’t have to go far to find one of them — U.S. Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown.

Critz, who represents the 12th District, which will include a section of southern Lawrence County next year, is seeking re-election in November. He defeated U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire for the Democratic nomination in the newly drawn district in the April primary.

Critz will face Republican Keith Rothfus of Allegheny County who lost to Altmire two years ago.

The race between Critz and Rothfus is being considered a tossup by some analysts.

Last month Critz said he wouldn’t attend the Democratic National Convention in September. Some other Democrats have said they would skip the convention as well because of differences with Obama.

In fact, the Critz campaign has been out front in how it feels about Obama. Critz spokesman Mike Mikus told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review last month that Obama trailed Mitt Romney in the district by double digits.

The Tribune-Review wrote: “That makes the decision to avoid the convention ‘pretty easy,’ Mikus said. Moreover, he said, ‘it is fair to say’ that Critz will not ask the president to campaign with him.”

Unlike the too-close-to-call race in the 12th District, Casey is running well ahead of his Republican opponent, Tom Smith. A poll released this week by We Ask America showed Casey with a lead of 53 to 39.

As displayed last week, Casey obviously isn’t distancing himself from Obama and yet enjoys a comfortable lead — at least at this point in the campaign.

One certainly can’t compare a statewide Senate race with a congressional district race. However, Casey apparently hasn’t been hurt by his association with Obama.

It makes you wonder how much voters pay attention to who candidates embrace.

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